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PostPosted: Sat Aug 19, 2006 8:16 pm 
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Dave Kehr's review:

"A vague attempt by Ingmar Bergman to introduce social issues--war and politics--into his scheme of suffering. Liv Ullmann and Max von Sydow are musicians who've taken refuge from an allegorical civil war on a remote island. The war gradually approaches them, and they're forced to act. Despite its evident sincerity, the film seems less like an indictment of intellectual and artistic irresponsibility than a quiet mea culpa. God, as usual, takes the rap."

WTF is he talking about? "God, as usual, takes the rap"? I know Bergman isn't one of his favorites, but whenever I read his religious interpretations of Bergman and Scorsese, he just seems full of shit.

I thought this film was even more disturbing given the Iraq War and the current conflict in Lebanon with Hezbollah (where the recent "cease-fire" has already been violated). But Kehr is a fucking idiot to think Bergman blames God for the surreal torment and suffering that unfolds in this picture.


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PostPosted: Sat Aug 19, 2006 11:20 pm 
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Surely what Dave Kehr is getting at is that it's usually Ingmar himself who puts his human wretches thru the torments of hell. Kehr is having a sly dig at Bergman's on-off agnosticism-atheism and that endless faith vs absence of god nonsense.

The only moment of (extremely brief) political insertion in all of Ingmar that touches me is the newsreel footage of the Buddhist monk self-immolating during the Vietnam War in Persona. And that's only because for once he has the taste to leave the shot uncluttered with "Other Meaning" (but as you can see Im also not a fan.)


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PostPosted: Sun Aug 20, 2006 12:09 am 
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Personally, I've always thought of "Shame" to be one of the very greatest films, a perfect representation of the effects of war on the human psyche. I love this film.

Check out Leo Goldsmith's review.

As far as Kehr's review goes, with the last line he seems to be almost deliberately trying to make the film sound stupid, which seems to be a pattern in negative reviews of Bergman's films.


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PostPosted: Sun Aug 20, 2006 3:27 pm 
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davidhare wrote:
Surely what Dave Kehr is getting at is that it's usually Ingmar himself who puts his human wretches thru the torments of hell. Kehr is having a sly dig at Bergman's on-off agnosticism-atheism and that endless faith vs absence of god nonsense.

Have you met my friend, Mary?

If that's Kehr's intention, it comes across as a cheap shot within the context of this review. An hour after watching this film, I'm reading the NY Times and there's a photo of a Lebanese man and woman physically battered and psychologically in pieces because their whole family - children, parents - are wiped out by an Israeli bomb. A few minutes later, I turn on the television and there's Bush and others going on and on about Israel having the right to defend itself from its enemies, but barely recognizing the bystanders that get caught in the middle. Usually when they do get acknowledged, it's in a very broad, vague manner.

The Shame isn't perfect, it's not one of my favorite Bergman films, but it still does an admirable job covering aspects of warfare that's often glossed over or ignored.


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 21, 2006 10:40 pm 
This was the first Bergman film I ever saw and I've always thought well of it. I remember what hit me most after watching was how he depicted the frailty of human relationships. That underneath the two characters' seemingly loving and tender marriage there was a shallowness or emptiness that was waiting for the right circumstance to come out. It's clear to me that at the end of the film their future is uncertain, but more hopeless is their future together. It makes me wonder about the most committed relationships I've seen; there really does seem to be a breaking point. I realize this is a bit of a common thread in his films.


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PostPosted: Tue Aug 22, 2006 11:28 am 
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Greathinker wrote:
That underneath the two characters' seemingly loving and tender marriage there was a shallowness or emptiness that was waiting for the right circumstance to come out. It's clear to me that at the end of the film their future is uncertain, but more hopeless is their future together. It makes me wonder about the most committed relationships I've seen; there really does seem to be a breaking point. I realize this is a bit of a common thread in his films.

I've only just finished the MGM boxset and I felt the same way you do. As a viewer I came to it thinking that it would be the horrors of war that would destroy the couple's relationship, but I ended up feeling that the relationship despite seeming happy was ready to crumble, and it just took a difficult situation to push it over the edge.

It made me feel that relationships are destroyed when you know someone well enough to know when they do something completely against their principles, or when they sell out rather than being true to themselves. A person can probably endure any kind of torment if they can trust and share in their partner's life but as the person seems prepared to kid themselves about what they are doing, the pressure then falls on the person who knows them to let that aspect of the one they love be abandoned. Especially coming after Persona, Shame feels like a struggle between separate sides of the same person - one who will do anything to survive and the other who has certain limits they won't cross. That knowledge of each other made me feel like I was seeing a partnership breaking up.

The film sometimes reminded me of Straw Dogs in the way that the outside events seem to mirror the couple's personal struggle, especially when Gunnar Bjornstrand's character comes into the picture.


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PostPosted: Tue Aug 22, 2006 12:17 pm 
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Greathinker wrote:
That underneath the two characters' seemingly loving and tender marriage there was a shallowness or emptiness that was waiting for the right circumstance to come out.

Quote:
As a viewer I came to it thinking that it would be the horrors of war that would destroy the couple's relationship, but I ended up feeling that the relationship despite seeming happy was ready to crumble, and it just took a difficult situation to push it over the edge.

It made me feel that relationships are destroyed when you know someone well enough to know when they do something completely against their principles, or when they sell out rather than being true to themselves. A person can probably endure any kind of torment if they can trust and share in their partner's life but as the person seems prepared to kid themselves about what they are doing, the pressure then falls on the person who knows them to let that aspect of the one they love be abandoned.

Interesting takes, but I'd have to disagree on one small point. I never felt the relationship was all that warm on the surface (in the beginning, of course). Towards the beginning, you had moments like the scene where Ullman discusses children (one unbroken shot, focused on Ullman and apparently improvised by her), but before then she already established herself as being a bit cold, occasionally insensitive and even self-centered. Von Sydow's emotional breakdowns are met with impatience and irritation, and he knows it...when a friend talks about leaving for the military and he tries to lift his spirits a bit ("maybe they won't take you, they didn't take me...") she barely says a word and tries to get them to leave...That sort of thing.

It's interesting how things sort of switch around towards the end. On the DVD, the prof. in the documentary jokes that Von Sydow suddenly becomes the Hollywood male when he grabs the gun from the young soldier and becomes aggressive and assertive, etc. but contrast that with Ullman's character, where the maternal instincts really come to the surface, she becomes more submissive and more emotional, etc.


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PostPosted: Tue Aug 22, 2006 3:55 pm 
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It seems a little like he is looking for someone to take his anger out on. I think it is his being forced into, but not exactly unhappy about the previous killing that unleashes him, or has broken down any moral barriers he might still have had against killing. I think that the death of Gunnar Bjornstrand's character is the turning point in a similar way that the rape scene could be seen as the point where the couple switch in Straw Dogs. In another film I could imagine the couple distraught but trying to comfort each another after such an event, but the constant sniping and the way instead of being mutually suspicious of the Colonel both sides of the couple seems to collude with him against the other has left the relationship destroyed, although as you say whether it was ever going to last without the outside events interfering seems unlikely.

Strangely that is another area where Shame and Straw Dogs come together - both the couples are trying to shut themselves off or run away from the outside world by moving to such secluded areas, perhaps so they can try and save their relationship, but the isolation only ends up removing all the ways that they can escape from having to face the failure of their relationship.

I was wondering if Eva's maternal instincts coming out at that point could also be that it comes after any chance of a reconcilliation with Jan is gone, and that she uses the young soldier as either a way of showing care for someone, or a way to torment Jan with what he has lost? Could then Jan taking the boy out to shoot be his way of acknowledging that he has noticed her attention and is prepared to kill another person she shows affection to in addition to the Colonel?


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PostPosted: Wed Aug 23, 2006 4:17 am 
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To my eye, Shame is a seering evocation of the godless world in which we live. So how can God be taking the rap when the film is actually suggesting that there is no God?


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PostPosted: Wed Aug 23, 2006 6:34 am 
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Yawn...

It's because Ingmar ALWAYS replaces god when he's not available.


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